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Geobotanical approach to detect land-use change of a Mediterranean landscape: a case study in Central-Western Sicily

Authors
  • Bazan, Giuseppe1
  • Castrorao Barba, Angelo2
  • Rotolo, Antonio3
  • Marino, Pasquale4
  • 1 University of Palermo, Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies (STEBICEF), via Archirafi 38, Palermo, 90123, Italy , Palermo (Italy)
  • 2 Centre for Research on Technology-Environment Interaction (CIRITA), University of Palermo, via Archirafi 38, Palermo, 90123, Italy , Palermo (Italy)
  • 3 Ludwig s.r.l.s, via Fiume 6, Palermo, 90133, Italy , Palermo (Italy)
  • 4 Bona Furtuna LLC, Los Gatos, CA, 95031, USA , Los Gatos (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
GeoJournal
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Jun 05, 2018
Volume
84
Issue
3
Pages
795–811
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10708-018-9892-1
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

A landscape is a palimpsest of the interactions between human activities and ecological dynamics. In an interdisciplinary perspective of dialogue between the ‘Two Cultures’ (Natural Sciences and Humanities), a study of a rural area has been carried out through a reading of plant ecosystems as signs of human impact. The purpose of this paper—as part of the project ‘Harvesting Memories’: Ecology and landscape archaeology of Castro/Giardinallo Valley and Mt. Barraù district (Corleone, Palermo, Sicily)—is to analyse the formative-processes of a Sicilian rural landscape and its changes in the last century. A key element in the reconstruction of the formation of the present landscape is the series of vegetation types which indicate the successive stages of different plant communities occurring in close relation with the human exploitation of natural resources (forestry, grazing, agriculture). An analytical frame for the landscape’s biography was generated through a diachronic comparison of images of the area in 1955 and the present day. The comparison in GIS of both spatial and typological changes in the different vegetation series, together with the calculation of a naturalness index Naturalness Evaluation Index, showed the trajectory the landscape (‘landscape-change map’) has undergone since the 1950s, with an increase in wooded and shrubbed areas and a reduction of pastures and cultivated areas.

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